Metal Maidens Went From Models to Denver Band Advocates | Westword

How the Metal Maidens Went From Myspace Models to Hardcore Band Advocates

The group, which first found fans via Myspace, will celebrate the release of its annual calendar at the Crypt with a lineup of bands.
The Metal Maidens with "Mohawk" Bob Bagnal, after a music video shoot for local band Human Paint.
The Metal Maidens with "Mohawk" Bob Bagnal, after a music video shoot for local band Human Paint. Courtesy Metal Maidens

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The Metal Maidens are much more than a group of alternative models. The local organization, which is gearing up to celebrate 24 years in 2024, is a DIY outfit that supports alternative music in more ways than just its annual calendar contest and release party.

“We all come together with one thing in common, and that’s music. Part of our goal is helping people out and getting their music out there,” explains model and member Lily Kinx.

“We help out with merch. If a band is traveling and their vehicle breaks down, we’ll come out and help them," she continues. "It’s expensive to tour. A lot of these bands don’t make money doing this type of stuff. We do it for the love of music.”

Kinx, who has won Metal Maiden of the Year honors, joined the Maidens a little over a year ago, after another member, Hellkat, approached her at the Colorado Festival of Horror. “When Hellkat walked up to me, first of all, I thought she was going to hand me a flier to a metal show, not a card for the Metal Maidens,” Kinx recalls, adding that she had heard of the group before, mainly on Myspace, when she lived in south Florida. "I was like, ‘What do I have to do? I want to do this.’”

Kinx connected with Metal Maidens founder and professional photographer Amy Asche, who was also at the horror show supporting co-worker and sideshow performer the Enigma. Growing up in Loveland with a metal-obsessed family, Asche was the original, and only, Metal Maiden before she started recruiting friends to form a small street team. “We really started out as just a street team, and it turned into so much more,” she explains, adding that back then, “there was no support for musicians, and we were there helping.

“There were very few other girls like us,” she continues. “I really just sought out the few other women who were like myself and like-minded. We’re not doing it for the wrong reasons. We just wanted to help out and thought it was fun.”

Asche’s Metal Maiden photos eventually caught the attention of local bands such as Horse, fronted by KBPI DJ Gregg “Uncle Nasty” Stone, who talked up the group on his radio show. Asche, who is also a model herself, didn’t think much of it until her inbox blew up.

“When the emails started rolling in. I was like, ‘I don’t know what we’re supposed to do here. This is going to be some sort of organization,’” she recalls with a laugh, adding that Uncle Nasty certainly helped spread the word during those early days. “Myspace was cool back then, and Myspace messages were flowing. It became like, ‘Man, we’re really going to have to form some type of group with this.’”
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Lily Kinx is a former Metal Maiden of the Year.
Courtesy Metal Maidens

Now the Metal Maidens boast a membership of around 100 members and oversee several chapters across the country, including in Oregon and Florida. While the original street-team aspect is still a pillar of the group, the club requires potential prospects to sign up and go through a more thorough process, which typically includes participating in the annual calendar contest. Other than hosting the accompanying launch party, the Metal Maidens publish a quarterly music magazine, Resident Rock Star, that also features member models.

“It’s sort of like the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition for Resident Rock Star. It’s all the Metal Maidens for the year, the girls who got into the calendar,” Asche explains. “That’s been one of our most popular publications.”

This year, the Metal Maidens will share the 2024 calendar during a celebration at the Crypt on Friday, January 5. Denver bands Human Paint, It’s Always Sunny in Tijuana and Goat Hill Massacre are on the bill, along with Wyoming's Abysmal Womb. The Enigma and “Mohawk” Bob Bagnal will also make appearances. And the Maidens themselves will be there. A portion of proceeds will go to support nonprofits Alternatives to Violence and Blast N Scrap.

Anyone who spends $10 at the event is eligible to vote for Iron Maiden of the Year (first), Metal Maiden of the Year (second) and Maiden of the Year (third). While the titles are a nice notch in anyone's belt, it’s all in good fun.

“The women who win are there to represent the Metal Maidens for the year,” explains Kinx, who also writes music reviews for Resident Rock Star. “But I don’t like to see it as a competition, because we all build each other up and are really happy for each other. It’s a lot of fun. Last year was pretty insane, so I can imagine what it’s going to be like this year.”

“It’s like a Metal Miss America,” Asche adds. “It’s their chance to flex their promotional muscles and show the scene what they’re capable of when they put their power behind things.”

The Metal Maidens are an “all-inclusive” group, she continues, and do not have a strict criterion on physical appearances or obligatory nudity. The only hard and fast rule is that members must be eighteen or older. Getting in front of the camera, Asche shares, is more about empowerment than the final product. “Not only do we accept all genders and LGBTQ+, but all body types,” she says. “A lot of people see the photos and they’re like, ‘I can never do that. I’m not that pretty, or I’m too overweight or whatever to do this.’ I’ve had girls even say, ‘I’m too skinny or flat-chested.’ Just always picking themselves apart. But we’re all just regular people.

“Then they look gorgeous,” she continues. “If you’re a good person on the inside, it’s going to show on the outside, and it’s going to come out in the pictures. You see the girls just blossom.”
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Amy Asche is the original Metal Maiden, unofficially forming the local group in 2000.
Courtesy Metal Maidens
Kinx remembers how nervous she was before her first photo shoot with Asche, but she quickly discovered that she could do whatever she wanted for the lens. Since then, she’s explored more risqué territory, but she still enjoys modeling new merch for a band the Metal Maidens support.

“A lot of people are like, ‘Oh, it’s like Suicide Girls’ — but it’s not, because Suicide Girls require you to get naked,” Asche explains. “These girls are not required to get naked and not required not to get naked. They’re allowed to express themselves any way they want. If they want to bring the sexy, they can bring the sexy. Or if they want to wear a trench coat and hide in a tent like Friday the 13th, they can do that, too.”

For example, Kinx and Asche recently worked on a shoot that featured It’s Always Sunny in Tijuana swag. Beyond that band seeing a bump in sales, which is just one effect the Metal Maidens have, Kinx and her fellow models were more than pleased with the results. “Normally I bring the sexy, but I wasn’t feeling the sexy that day, so I just wore an oversized T-shirt and a hat, and it’s one of my favorite photos,” Kinx says. “I had a blast doing it.”

The latest calendar isn’t the only thing the Maidens have in the works for the upcoming year. First, there’s a new weekly radio show, Metal Mondays With the Metal Maidens, on Third Ear Radio that allows the group to feature local metal bands while livestreaming from Asche’s place. Then Colorado Festival of Horror, one of the sponsors of the upcoming launch show, is working with the Maidens on a horror-inspired pinup book, set to be released in 2024 and featuring work by such artists as Matt Maguire of GWAR and COFOH's Daniel Crosier.

For the group’s 25th anniversary, comic book artist Barry McClain Jr. of Blue Juice Comics, another sponsor, is whipping up a five-book series chronicling the epic journey of the Metal Maidens from inception to the present day. Plus, the Maidens recently began managing bands, mainly Human Paint and Goat Hill Massacre.

So, yeah, the Metal Maidens are not just a group of good-looking metalheads. With so much going on, sometimes people even mistake them for a band.

“We get that a lot, actually,” Asche says.

She doesn’t dismiss the idea of actually starting one, but for now, she says, “we’re going to master each thing as it comes.”

“We’re just rolling with the punches," Kinx concludes, "and the opportunities that already came at us."

Metal Maidens Calendar Release Party, 7 p.m. Friday, January 5, the Crypt, 1618 East 17th Street. Tickets are $15 at the door.
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